Via The Associated Press:
A federal judge says a liberal advocacy group has a First Amendment right to call a Christian ministry a hate group for its opposition to homosexuality. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson threw out a lawsuit filed by the Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries Media Inc. against the Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery, Alabama.
The ministry sued the law center, Amazon and others in 2017 because it wasn’t included in a program that lets Amazon customers donate to nonprofit groups. The suit says the refusal was because the law center had labeled the ministry a hate group for its stance against homosexual behavior.
Thompson’s 141-page decision stated that the watchdog organization has a free-speech right to make the claim, but he didn’t address whether the ministry is a hate organization.
“Any organization we list as a hate group is free to disagree with us about our designation, but this ruling underscores that the designation is constitutionally protected speech and not defamatory,” said Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim president of the SPLC.
SPLC defines a hate group as an organization that attacks or maligns an entire class of people, typically over characteristics such as race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. SPLC is based in Alabama, which is where the ministries filed its lawsuit and Thompson is a U.S. District Court judge.
Thompson also dismissed Coral Ridge/Kennedy Ministries’ claims against Amazon